ITM Cup: Savea sparkles as Lions thrash rivals

In only his second ITM Cup game Ardie Savea delivered a glimpse of what he can produce in the future.

The younger brother of All Blacks wing Julian Savea grabbed two tries as he helped Wellington beat Southland 40-8 in the capital yesterday.

Ardie Savea may only be 18 and one year out of Rongotai College, but he showed plenty of maturity in his performance in front of 5692 people at Westpac Stadium.

Aside from his brace of five-pointers he was also dangerous with ball in hand at openside flanker and made one impressive linebreak in the first spell.

He also showed his versatility given he played the opening game of the campaign at No8.

An eight-try win for Auckland over a hapless Manawatu yesterday and coach Wayne Pivac has suggested we can expect the ITM Cup points-scoring avalanche to continue.

Auckland got their season back on track with their first match at Eden Park for 2012 featuring four tries in each half - fullback Charles Piutau collecting a hat-trick - and nine out of nine kicks at goal.

Following a comprehensive midweek defeat at the hands of Canterbury in Christchurch, and letting it slip in the second half of their win over Hawke's Bay in round one, Auckland quickly found their mojo in front of a crowd of 7600 thanks to a leaky Turbos defence.

After a difficult Super Rugby season with the Blues and slow start to the ITM Cup, first-five Gareth Anscombe played well, kicking seven from seven as he helped his side to a 59-16 win.

If there were any doubts about Canterbury after their surprise opening round defeat to Tasman, they have been erased over the course of the last three days.

In that time the red-and-blacks have beaten both Auckland and North Harbour to surge up the Premiership table and they've done it on the back of a combined 69-14 scoreline.

It took some time to exert their dominance over North Harbour, going to the break with a 10-3 lead, but they were completely dominant in the second spell as they changed the point of attack from one side to the next.

They piled on four second-half tries to secure a bonus-point win and looked full of running at the end of their 36-3 victory.

The Ranfurly Shield has seen some wonderfully rugged and dour encounters in its 109-year history. This was not one of them.

The tone of the match was set in the opening 30 seconds, when Blade Thomson rounded off a break by the classy Beauden Barrett, and continued at an incredible pace.

Taranaki had their four-try bonus point inside 25 minutes and Tasman weren't far behind as both teams played attacking, running rugby. Even props like Tasman bookend Tim Perry were found finishing off 60m breaks in the tit-for-tat game.

Traditionalist might have bemoaned the lack of defence, and it was often way too porous, but it proved to be an entertaining, if somewhat crazy, contest.

A mammoth 62 points were scored in the first half.

The second half took some time to get going - 67 seconds - before Quentin MacDonald scored as Tasman hit the lead for the first time in the match but it was short-lived as Barrett then landed four penalties to give his side a good buffer.

After trading more points, Barrett settled the result when he scored two minutes from time to make it 49-40 and the relief around Yarrow Stadium was palpable.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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